Yes, I’m a Slacker…

I know…it’s been over a month since I last posted.  Thank you to the few of you who cared enough to write and say “Where the Hell have you been Slacker!?!”  I guess time flies when you’re having fun…well, if you can call having a bout with Shingles fun.  Yes, I had Shingles…in my ear!!  I always have to do everything in the most interesting way possible.  I’m thru with the worst of it…the ear ache from hell, the itching in my inner ear which almost caused me to Van Gogh myself…and so now I feel almost normal.  Which for me is definitely a relative term.
I haven’t run since early August, but I have been walking my 3.1 mile route regularly to try and keep myself in some type of shape.  This morning while walking on a perfect brisk, sunny, September in Vermont morning,  I passed two people, at two different times, both wearing VT City Marathon shirts.  I figured this was the universe’s way of reminding me I had a goal to get back to…So I am signing up for another race!  Saturday, October 29th, I will be running in the 4th Annual Halloween Hustle in Essex Jct.  And I get to dress up in a costume!  Hey, if I can’t win, at least I can get the best costume prize? Another 5k….and Juniper Ridge Barbie has already laid down the warning….I’d better run the whole thing this time.  So back to training I go…no shingles, no slacking, no excuses!!

This Fat Kid Still Hates Gym Class

August 4, 2011

The smell of a locker room can practically send my heart into Atrial Fibrillation.  I can remember climbing the stairs to the Browns River Middle School girls locker room and wishing I would never get to the top.  At the top would mean having to change into my gym clothes, put on that stupid nylon mesh pinnie and spend the next hour in utter humiliation. 
I’m all for kids getting physical activity.  Get them moving, teach them sports they might not have otherwise been exposed to and learn how to be a part of a team.  I loved it when we played floor hockey or got to push that gigantic ball around the soccer field, but is it really necessary for a 9 year old to know how to vault over a pommel horse?  In 5th grade I weighed 120 lbs. and the whole class knew this because we had our height and weight charted on a graph for one semester on a big poster on the gym wall.  My graph line looked more like that Mountain Climber game on the Price is Right…going up and up with no prize for going over the top. (go on, yodel with Franz...
I mention the pommel horse because gymnastics week would cause me to break out in a rash and keep me up at night.  I wish I could have been like my best friend Tracy Maciora.  I so envied her ability to run full force at that springboard and catapult herself up and over like it was nothing.  I on the other hand didn’t time my jump off the board correctly and slammed gut first into the side of that nasty naugahyde covered contraption.  Once the air came back into my lungs, I asked Coach Williamson if I could sit out the rest of the class.  He just shook his head and told me to get back in line.  I puked on his Adidas.  Nurse’s office is way better than sitting in the bleachers.
To this day it is still a process to psych myself up to do physical activity.  But now it’s my choice, I do it because I have seen the benefits I gain from pushing myself to get it done.  And I also choose never to vault over anything ever again!

Move Along Grandma….Last Place is Mine

July 28, 2011

I pinned my bib number to my shirt, I stretched my calf muscles, made sure I had enough water in the bottles on my belt and lined up with the others at the starting line.  This is it, I thought to myself, this is what it feels like to be a real runner.  With the blast of the starter pistol the mass around me started moving, and I along with it, but within a few short minutes it became very clear…looking like a runner, acting like a runner…doesn’t make you a runner. 
Out of 78 participants, yup, you guessed it, I came in 78th.  With a time of 42 minutes,  19 seconds.  The mass of runners was out of my sight so quickly, if I hadn’t been wearing a number on my shirt, bystanders would not have known I was a part of the race.  Although, later on when the Essex Junction Fire Department rig was following me to the finish line, this same number let people know I was just the last runner, and not an escapee from the Chittenden County Correctional Center.
Yes I was last, but I finished.  A few adolescents, Dads with baby joggers and two Grandmothers had pace times a full five minutes less than mine.  But they aren’t me.  As far as I know none of them have battled back from almost life threatening obesity, and don’t have the same determination and goals I do.  I have done my first 5k and for my next one I will be better, stronger and faster! 
And Grandma will be behind me

Someone Has to be Last


I got my serious running shoes!

And they are not orange!  Actually, the first pair the nice lady at the Ski Rack who helped me brought out were orange, and the second pair was teal…but thankfully when I mentioned those were not my favorite colors…she brought out these.  The best running shoes for me…and they are fuchsia! J  That’s Gaston my piggy bank in the picture too…everyone needs a pink polka dotted piggy bank, right?
So Essex Junction is having their Block Party 5k Fun Run next Saturday and I am considering having this be my first official race.  I will not be able to run all of it…it will be accomplished by the 5 / 1 x 5 equation.  Or is it 5 / 1 x 7?  Let’s see, doing a 13 minute mile, times 3.1 miles equals 43 minutes,  divided by….oooh I’m starting to drool…enough of that!  Basically, I’m gonna run when I can run, and walk when I have to walk!  My sister Renee offered to run with me as moral support…but with a caveat…she doesn’t want to be the last ones in.  She can run 3.1 miles no problem.  (Damn Juniper Ridge Barbie…) But someone has to be last, and if it has to be me, well that’s the way it’s going to be.  It’s not like it’s going to take me half the day, at most I’ll be 15 minutes behind everyone else…but it’s a “FUN” run people….let’s remember that!
My calf muscle is better, but not 100 percent.  My lungs are still working harder than I would like, but better than when I started.  I spent most of my life seriously out of shape and I can’t expect to be Flo Jo overnight…wait, she died…anyway, this is my goal and I’m going to keep pushing myself forward.  I will NOT give up!!  Come on Barbie…let’s go run.

If Oprah can do it...

June 30, 2011
I have my first running injury….
It’s not really that bad, I have strained my left calf muscle.  Thought it was a cramp, but it wouldn’t go away.  So, no running since this past Sunday L  I was doing so well!  I did part of my last run just short of a mile without stopping…and I was down to a 13 minute mile too…and no more pity looks from passing motorists.
I have a sneaking suspicion my injury is due to my old sneakers.  The Nike Max Air sneaks are super stylin’ but probably not classified as serious running sneakers….so I’m headed to the Ski Rack this weekend to get fitted for real running shoes.  And to prove how committed I am to doing this right…I’m not going to complain if the only color they come it is orange…or teal.  For the first time in my life, what I put on my feet will not be a fashion statement...It will be about cushioning, flexibility and pronation control. (Google it, I had to) But, Oh please God…let the best sneakers for me come in Pink!!!
So as I sat convalescing with my ibuprofen and ice pack, I spent some more time reading about running. I came across an interesting article about Oprah's first marathon experience and how she trained for it.  Now for years I loved Oprah, but I have to be honest and say I was a bit over her by the time she called it quits.  After watching her shows, she had me feeling so guilty if I was consuming food with high fructose corn syrup, not wearing the right bra, not contributing to kids in third world countries or anything to prove I was not “living my best life”. The guilt associated with being an Oprah fan was almost as bad as it is being Catholic…almost.
Anyway, back to the running…Oprah was about to turn 40 and wanted to lose some weight yet again…sound familiar??  So she consulted with her personal trainer Bob Greene about how would be the fastest way to lose it.  He said running.  He took her out for a run to see how she would do and she did her first mile in 17 minutes.  Ah-Ha Moment!! I beat Oprah!!!!  Over the next year he put her on a training schedule to build up her endurance, strength and take off the weight.  When she ran in the Marine Corps Marathon she was 70 lbs lighter and ran it in 4 hours and 29 minutes.  (Conversely, Al Roker ran the NYC Marathon in 7 hours and 9 minutes…poor guy was being followed to the finish line by the street sweepers.)  Now, I still have no idea how much of the marathon I will be running next year…way too early to tell…but since I can’t afford to have my own Bob Greene, I can follow the regime Oprah paid for…and see where it takes me.  And I can assure you, whatever distance I do run, no way I’ll be wearing this get up…

My Fat Suit

June 23, 2011
I once weighed 300 lbs.  Well, 301 to be exact…but what’s a pound once you’ve hit 3 bills?  Not proud of it…I ate my way to every freakin’ ounce of it.  Not going to blame it on a thyroid problem, slow metabolism or say I was “big boned” (those would have to be dinosaur bones!!!) I just wouldn’t put the fork down.

Like the hair?  I used to think that if my hair was big enough it would take the focus away from how wide my hips were…like it would all be proportionate??  Teased up so big I could carry my wallet and car keys up in it!  And look at those chubby cheeks… I think I look like Gweneth Paltrow in Shallow Hal when she was wearing the fat suit…only problem, I couldn’t take mine off like she could when the director said “Cut”.
So how did I allow myself to get to that size?  Well, like Mark Twain said, Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt…and we all know that being overweight isn’t the problem, it’s a symptom of the problem.  Don’t know if I’ll ever find out what “the problem” really is…probably would take the budget of a small country in psychiatric bills to figure it out.  I had Gastric Bypass surgery in 2001…and lost 135 lbs.  I would sneeze and lose 10 lbs!  Of course, go from regularly eating a medium pizza all by yourself to barely being able to eat one piece…and that will happen! But, I didn’t change the how’s and why’s of eating and gained about half of it back over the next 8 years.  The Doctor operated on my stomach not my head…should have been the other way around!
Then, turning 40 was looming large on the horizon.  I wasn’t freaking out about getting older…Hey, I still act like I’m 10…I just kept wondering to myself, do I really want to spend the second half of my life like I have the first half?  I literally woke up one morning and said “ENOUGH!” I’m too much of a control freak to let this warped relationship with food win.  I decided to completely turn my life around…it’s amazing…this eating right and exercise shit really works!!  I’ve seen how unhealthy and unfit I can be…now I’m going to the opposite end of the spectrum and find out how healthy and fit I can be.  So on to the running….
I’m now running regularly outside.  I have mapped out a course in my neighborhood which is exactly 3.1 miles…if I want to run a 5k by the end of summer, I better practice on 5k right??!!  Not running the full distance yet…at times it’s run a minute, walk a minute.  Lungs are being so stubborn!!  I had to stop for a second this morning after making my way up a small incline (fine, go ahead, laugh) when the driver of a CCTA bus stopped and asked me if I needed a ride… “No,” I said in between gulps of air, “I’m…in…training…”  He shook his head in bewilderment and drove away…leaving me in a cloud of bus exhaust.  Thanks a lot Ralph Kramden.  I also think I need to invest in a  Runner’s Belt so I can haul some water with me…getting a little parched on my run.  It would be embarrassing if I were caught kneeling on someone’s lawn, mouth positioned over an automatic sprinkler head waiting for it to come on….

A Very Brady Runner

June 16, 2011

I ran five miles this morning!!!!....then I woke up.  F@&%ing alarm!!

So, what I could not quite accomplish last week…I have this week!  5 / 1 x 5 = HAPPY!!!

And I have done it three times! Still huffin and puffin, the benefit of the handfuls
of spinach I am eating will take a little while to kick in, but I feel I am making progress!  And the endorphins afterwards!!!  Wow wee! They should sell this stuff…well, I guess they do...but it’s a felony if you’re caught buying it…I’ll just run, keep it legal.

I have been doing a lot of reading about running; how much I should be running, how I should be running, when I should be running...Everyone has an opinion! I especially love the article a male, who calls himself an expert on everything running, wrote on the benefits of selecting a good support bra. Really? Well unless you are sporting an impressive set of man boobs Sparky, I’m not buying what you are selling!  Men always think they are mammary experts…And what is this I read about Runner’s Butt!?!  That running builds up your hamstrings and glutes to make the perfect bum!? Sign me up for one of those!  No more calling me Frannie Flat Ass!  I’m even going to get a T-shirt….

One of the reasons I was reading so much about running, was to answer the question about how fast I should be running…3.2 on the treadmill seems like I’m running in slow motion, but 4.5 makes me fear I’m going to fly off the back and hit the wall!  The answer I have found to be most consistent is that I should be able to carry on a conversation…is that with full, coherent sentences??  Another answer I liked best is that you should be able to sing “Happy Birthday” or the theme song to your favorite TV show… I think I’ll work on this.  My favorite TV show theme song is “The Brady Bunch”…but I have changed the lyrics to make it more interesting:

Here’s the story…Of a head strong lady,
Who decided she would go out for a run
She was kinda out of shape, a little heavy
But she would get it done

Till she spent about ten minutes on the treadmill
She realized she was being a little smug
That this goal of running any distance
Was going to require a lot of drugs
Or smaller jugs
and lots of hugs
That’s why now she passed out up on the rug!

Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail

June 9, 2011
This is what I feel like sometimes when I’m running…but the shoes are cute!
I have completed my first week of training!  Can I get a “Hale-freakin-luah”!!!  I have improved a little…down to a 14 minute mile!  Small children and the elderly with walkers are passing me…but that is fine, this is a process.  I have worked out a schedule of running every other day along with my regular work out schedule…I believe that failing to plan is planning to fail.  I also have an incredibly short attention span, so to keep bright, shiny objects from distracting me, I put it down on paper and refer to it often…see, it’s on my bulletin board above my computer…along with the VCM course map! 
Now THAT’S motivation!!
The running schedule I have adopted, for those of you keeping score at home, is a plan to get me ready to run a 5k race by the end of the summer.  It has me running 5 minutes, walking 1 minute and doing this 5 times in a row.  That is why it says 5/ 1 x 5 on the schedule.  At first I thought it was a fraction equation, which almost caused me to give up on the whole thing…because I’m not really strong in math…Ok, it causes me to drool on myself and stare off into space with a goofy look on my face.  Anyway…this schedule will be increased each week until I am running for a full 30 minutes…and the trumpets will blare and confetti will come streaming down.  Unfortunately, I have only been able to run the 5 minutes 3 times and the walking breaks are 2 minutes in duration (5/ 2 x 3 = SAD)…because,  I.  Can’t.  Breathe.  Which is kinda a problem…when you want to run a marathon.  After a conversation with my dear friend Carissa (who is a medical wizard…really, she’s had training…has fancy documents to prove it!) it turns out I have an iron deficiency and am anemic…hemoglobin levels and iron stores are in the basement…coincidently where the treadmill is, but this is not helping.  So I will be adding supplements and changing up my diet tout suite!!!…and will be strong to the finish ‘cause I eats me spinach! Hey, I yam what I yam…

Good vs Evil

June 4, 2011

Little devil sitting on my left shoulder:  “Why are you putting on those stupid sneakers again?”
Little angel sitting on my right shoulder:  “Because she has a very important goal to achieve!”
Devil: “Cardiac Arrest is a goal?”
Angel: “She’s getting better, down to a 15 minute mile now!”
Devil: “Wow! Turtle Magee is making some headway!”
Angel: “Yes she is! Today she is going for her first run outside!”
Devil: “I’ll alert Essex Police…no, this person isn’t being chased…she WANTS to do this!”
Angel: “Yup, and her goal is to do 1 ½ miles…”
Devil: “1 ½ in a row? And how is she getting back?  Rescue doesn’t provide Taxi service…”
Angel: “She’ll make it back, and I will bet you it will be with an even better time too!”
Devil: “Stop!  My laughing is starting to hurt my stomach!”
Angel:  “You won’t be laughing when you see her next year at the start line wearing her VCM Bib number!”
Devil: “Yeah, but I might be at the finish line…”
Angel: (Shoves the Devil off my shoulder) “You Go Girl!!”

Day One, Mile One

May 31, 2011
As I stood at the 23 mile marker of the 2011 Vermont City Marathon, cheering on the runners and helping direct traffic (really people, you have to get there right now!? Have you heard this city puts on a Marathon each year???) I felt such admiration for these individuals, these warriors…Rock stars really…the culmination of all their hard work and sacrifice I was privileged to bear witness to. I was inspired. I want to do it, I thought to myself, I want be a part of this awesome experience! Wait, wait a minute…pause the Chariots of Fire soundtrack playing in my head…You are 41, your BMI puts you on the cusp of the overweight/obese category and the only running you have ever done is the running up of your credit card balances…But really the only way I could fail is if I never began. It would have to start with the first mile. I can run a mile, right??  What’s it going to take me, ten minutes?  I can do anything for ten minutes. Start with a mile…let’s see what I can do.
Today was a warm day to end the month of May, 84 degrees when I got home from work. Running outside was not a smart option.  My basement, where my treadmill resides, was a cool 64 degrees. The added plus to the cooler environment was no one could see me.  But, I would be alone…in a basement…would the dogs channel their inner Lassie to alert the Rescue squad when they recognized the thud of their master passing out and hitting the concrete? Stay positive, I’m not going to die, I’m just going to run a mile for crying out loud!  I tied up my Nike Max Air sneakers, put my hair in a high pony tail (at least I would look cute) and took my first few strides towards my goal.
I’ve heard, when running inside, you should keep yourself distracted; turn on the TV, have music playing, do anything but watch the display…I knew this, but somehow that’s all I could focus on after the first minute.  No, I told myself, listen to Darren Perron tell me the news, count how many floor joists make up the basement ceiling, mentally re-organize the Christmas decorations lined up on the opposite wall…but my eyes kept going back to the display.  Ohhh, this is going to be ugly.  10 minutes came and went….and I had only just passed the halfway mark!!  Keep going, you can do it!  I kept chanting to myself…heart pounding, knees screaming, sucking so much wind I’m sure I was changing the atmosphere above…People do this for fun!?!  The last 30 seconds my stride closely resembled Quasi Moto’s gait…Sanctuary! Sanctuary! I screamed as I repeatedly slammed the “down” button to slow me to a stop…It took me 16.34 minutes!!! To run a mile! Just ONE mile!! I am officially pathetic, I can walk faster than I can run….It’s got to get better, I will get better!
And so begins my goal, I AM going to run in the 2012 Vermont City Marathon.  It might be only the 1st leg of the relay (3.1 miles)…after the first day’s results, this might be the sane, realistic option.  Maybe as part of a two person relay (13.1 miles)If God gives me strength and a new set of lungs…but if I start making noise of conquering the whole flippin’ 26.2 miles the first time out…shoot me, I have succumb to mad cow disease.  It would ONLY be 25.1 miles more right?  And I have a whole year…Here I go!!!